By Shahed Amanullah
The supposed reason behind the travel ban being announced imminently for seven mostly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) is to keep America safe. But it’s not designed to do that. If it were, it would include countries like Saudi Arabia (9/11), Pakistan (San Bernardino), Nigeria (underwear bomber), UK/France (shoe bomber), and several other countries from which people abused the visa system to attempt/carry out acts of terror.
What this policy does do is give people with simplistic views about Islam’s link to terror a false sense of security, and stokes additional hatred toward millions who have nothing to do with terrorism. This ban fuels xenophobia for domestic political gain while disguised as counterterrorism policy.
The Obama administration already had the most “extreme vetting” of refugees on earth, lasting up to 2 years, and there have been no cases that I know of of vetted refugees engaging in acts of terror. And every year we educate the best and brightest from these countries (upwards of 50,000 students from Iran alone), which helps build bridges between our countries, aligns our cultures and values, brings in millions in revenue for our universities, provides the basis for deep economic ties, and more. These gains, which benefit both sides, are now in jeopardy.
The seven countries listed in the travel ban have virtually no economic relationship with the US (save possibly Iraq), so there is no real cost for the White House to blacklist them. But anti-Muslim bigots smelling blood will call for the adding Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, and several other countries to the list.
Then Trump will be stuck. Adding those countries will come with severe economic, diplomatic, and policy costs – effectively killing existing anti-terrorism relationships which have proven useful in the past.
In the end, we’ll have demonized Muslim communities both here and abroad, unraveled anti-terror relationships, and crippled economic ties. And we’ll be no safer for it all.
You don’t have to like Muslims to oppose where Trump is going with this travel ban. You just have to take America’s safety, economy, and standing in the world seriously.